In our modern culture, more people are quitting their 9 to 5 to start their own creative business. First of all, I think that’s amazing. It makes me so happy to see the people pursuing their goals. I’m a huge supporter of entrepreneurs! These people are turning their passion into a purpose and creating a profitable business for themselves! So inspiring! Ultimate Branding Checklist
However, with more people beginning their own business ventures, you may be worried about:
- How do I get noticed?
- How can I build a successful business for the people I want to work with?
- What’s going to set me apart from other creatives in the same industry?
The answer is… your brand.
Your brand is what sets you apart and creates an impactful, memorable business. It’s a reflection of who you are, who you want to be and who people perceive you to be. Once you’ve established a brand identity and effective brand strategy, you will start attracting your ideal audience and begin building trust in an authentic way. That’s the moment people start creating a buzz around your business. That’s the moment they start wanting to work with you and buying your products. It all starts with your brand.
The Ultimate Branding Checklist
With that being said, you can see how your brand is not just your logo. That’s why I’ve pulled together The Ultimate Branding Checklist that will help set the foundation for your business.
1. Clear Mission
Find your “why”. Do some business soul-searching and figure out what the core mission of your business is. Do your research by learning the needs of your target audience and deliver services and content that will genuinely help them. Remember that you have unique talents and personality, so use that to your advantage. Don’t copy your competitors. Make your business your own by adding a dose of your personality into it. This will help your branding stand out in an authentic way.
2. Target Niche
What makes you feel confident? Your confidence is your strength. Where are you going to shine the most? Pick your industry, narrow it down to one specific focus and become the expert.
3. Target Audience
A brand includes a clear understanding of who your target audience is and what they want and need from you. What are their interest? What do they struggle with? What is their biggest problem that you can help them solve? Where are they primarily most active? When you can identify who your ideal target audience is and what their needs are, you can figure out the best way to connect with them.
4. Brand Values
Determine how you will do business. Is it based on communication? Trust? Do you value customer loyalty? Always stay true to the values of your business, and be really clear on what you want your audience to know about you.
5. Brand Boundaries
Create boundaries for your business and learn when to say no to something that doesn’t align with your brand values or services.
6. Brand Misson and Purpose
Discover your brand’s mission and ensure you are communicating it clearly to your audience across all platforms so they understand why exactly you offer.
7. Custom Domain Name
Choose a name for your business and secure that baby in a custom url ASAP. Stay away from services like WordPress.com or Wix that give domain names like www.yourname.wordpress.com or www.yourname.wix.com. Owning your own branded domain name will immediately establish credibility for your business.
8. Custom Email Address
Get a personalized email address along with your domain name. This will also establish credibility. I just ups your professional look, and you’ll feel more confident when giving it out.
This one is a major asset as it serves as the face of your business and core of your brand identity. I recommend hiring a professional designer to create a logo for you. If you’re on a budget, there is always the option to DIY or purchase a pre-made logo. Either way make sure it’s high quality, concise and portrays the vision you have for your brand.
Every business NEEDS a website! Even if you’re an accountant, landlord, barber, chocolatier, or professional-underwater-basket-weaver… you get the point. Everyone wants to see how credible your business is, and they will see that from your website. They will want to learn more about you without calling or walking into your storefront. (It’s too intimidating and awkward, especially for younger generations.) Your website has to be the place for your ideal clients to learn more information about you, your mission and your services. It’s like your home sweet home on the Internet! Depending on your budget and experience, invest in a designer to create a custom website.
11. Business Cards
Going to networking and social events are great places to connect. Handing out your business card is like sharing a piece of you with the world. Make sure it’s something that is clear and matches other visual assets.
12. Social Media Presence
A social media presence is going to be an essential tool for your brand strategy. You’re social platforms are should look like a never-ending mood board of your business. Secure your social media handles at the time you secure your domain name. Find out where you target audience hangs out the most, Instagram, Facebook/ Facebook Groups, Pinterest, Twitter, Youtube etc.. The more active you are on a social media channel, the more likely you’re going to drive traffic to your business.
13. Creative Workspace
Whether your working from home or have an office building, you have to make your spaces your own. People need to recognize your business just from walking in or looking at pictures of your business. Your space should inspire your work and clients.
14. Photography Style
Establish a photography style/theme. If you are taking your own photos, make sure you use great lighting and stay consistent with the style, filters and props you use. You also have the option to invest in branded stock photos. Either way, high-quality images will take your brand to the next level. I recommend checking out White Nova Studio and Twiggy Post.
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15. Professional Headshots
Use the same professional, clean photo as your profile image on all social media accounts. Include additional photos of yourself on your website to make yourself look more human, and not just text on a screen. You can stage these yourself or hire a photographer.
16. Font Palette
Depending on the font you use, typography can set the tone for your brand. Are you playful or sophisticated? Bold or minimalistic? Choose two or three fonts and use them consistently throughout your website, social media graphics and other branding materials. Creative Market has several beautiful modern fonts that you can purchase that everyone else isn’t using too.
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17. Brand Personality
Ensure your personal branding is a reflection of you. Give your brand a positive character and make sure it shines throughout your business. It’s important for your audience to connect and relate to you. Don’t be afraid to word things, as you would actually say them, and crack jokes, use slag.
18. Brand Colors
Color has a deep effect on how you make your audience feel. Choose a color palette that plays to that emotion and supports the personality you want to portray. For example, neutral and monochromatic color palettes give off a minimalistic, classic vibe whereas vibrant hues are more bold and energetic.
19. Blog Post Graphic
Create a template for your blog posts feature images, worksheets, freebies and Pinterest images. Make sure they are set up using the proper dimensions for your website and social media platforms. If you are using the same template throughout, it will create consistency and make it easier for your brand to be identified as your brand.
20. Email List
Not many people think about creating a newsletter template that fits your brand instead of opting for a plain-text email. Embed your colors, fonts, and images to personalize those inboxes letters. Don’t add too many pictures to your emails because it may get detected as spam. Creating a banner at the top of your emails can help your subscribers remember who you are and what you do.
Engaging with your audience and building genuine relationships is so important for your brand. Take the time to respond to your comments on social media and blog posts. Join Facebook Groups and find threads where you can offer a helping hand or bits of advice. This is how you connect with your audience, build trust, learn more about their needs and hopefully land your dream clients.
Identify the competitors in your industry and differentiate yourself. Discover what makes your brand unique. Figure out what you can deliver that no one else can. Trust me, there is at least one thing that you do that no one else does in your field. You don’t necessarily need to offer “cheaper prices,” surely you have valuable services or products that deserve the price you want them to sell them at.
23. Blog Strategy
Determine how often you will publish new posts. Start off with once or twice a week and then gradually build up. This sets the pace for your brand letting your audience know when they can expect to see new content from you. By hiring a web designer, can help you establish great SEO, Search Engine Opitaliation, so Google, Yahoo, and Bing will refer your blog post to people’s searches.
24. Content Strategy
Determine your primary topics and categories for your blog, website, and other content outlets. For your blog, you can choose one main topic and then break them into subtopics. Make sure you stay close to your niche and don’t worry about running out of things to talk about. Trust me, there are so many ways to generate new blog post ideas. You can feature testimonials from people who have used your service or products too.
25. Brand Language
This is how you communicate. Whether it’s playful and energetic, or sweet and polite, make sure your brand communicates a clear message that your ideal audience can easily understand and relate to. And remember, don’t be afraid to be yourself! Each voice is unique and everyone has their own way of portraying their own message.
26. Brand Story
Share your journey. Every business has a story about how they got started. It’s nice to connect your audience to the history of your business and show them how you got to where you are today. Explain why you wanted to start a business, how you did it, who helped you, who have you helped, challenges you faced and what your goals are now.
27. Brand Balance
Find a perfect balance of personal and professional posts on social media. Sometimes it’s nice to share the not-so-glamorous side of your business. Throw in some posts of your pups or kids every now and again if you feel like it. It’s a great way to interact with your audience on a deeper level to make you appear more human and relatable.
28. Writing Style
Discover a style of writing blog posts, emails, and newsletters. Will it be informal or formal? Do you use lots of emojis, icons, and color? Are you a storyteller? Do you include audio recordings, videos or lots of example photos? Developing your own writing style is a great way to establish your brand and attract people with similar styles.
29. Email Signature
Brand your email by including an email signature that contains an image of yourself, your logo or your digital signature. You can also include a short bio, your contact information, and a website URL.
30. Brand Buzz Words
If you could sum up your brand using three key words, what would they be? Think about it. These three words quickly define your brand and are great to have on hand if you’re ever trying to decide if something is in line with your vision.
*Phew* That was a lot! You may feel overwhelmed, and that’s totally normal. All of these things will simply take time to establish. I’m still working on fleshing mine out. Be patient working with yourself, and you’ll get there soon enough. If you want to have this article as a resource, pin the image checklist below to easily find it again later!
The Ultimate Branding Checklist
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